Feedflint hoop house ready for harvest … credit Asbury Farms

The Season of Lent is a special time of year for the church. The diversity of ways in which churches around the world experience this season offers insight into the different ways that people experience the holy. For many, Lent represents a time of struggle illustrated by giving up favorite foods after celebrating Fat Tuesday with their favorite Paczki or other treats.

Take a trip through Wikipedia’s commentary on Fat Tuesday, and you learn about a few of the different ways Christians celebrate on the day before Lent begins. For example, did you know that Queen Elizabeth is more likely to call it “Pancake Day?” But why all this talk about food as preparation for celebrating Lent?

We launch our new series on Wednesday, March 2, with an Ash Wednesday service at 6 PM. Our message for our kickoff is called Rocks, which reflects the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness when Satan tries to get to Jesus through his empty stomach. Jesus doesn’t fall for it, but this wasn’t a bad attempt on Satan’s part. We tend to make bad decisions when we’re hungry.

Speaking of hungry. Did you know that a substantial number of families living in the City of Flint experience food insecurity daily? This means that these families face significant obstacles when putting meals on their tables. Now, this is a problem under any circumstances, but for the residents of Flint, access to nutrition is crucial. A state of emergency was declared in January 2016 due to a series of water contamination problems that included lead leaching into public drinking water.

No one knows how many of the nearly 100,000 Flint residents were affected by drinking lead-tainted water. However, healthcare professionals estimate that between 6,000 to 12,000 children were likely exposed to lead.

According to a study published by Genesys Medical Center, childhood lead poisoning has serious health consequences and disproportionately affects vulnerable children and pregnant mothers. In addition, lead poisoning is irreversible and affects many developmental and biological processes.

Lead exposure is linked to lowered IQ (intelligence), reduced academic achievement, behavior problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), lack of impulse control, aggression, and more. The Flint Water Crisis will have lifelong, multi-generational consequences.

While there’s no actual cure for lead poisoning consuming a balanced diet rich in particular nutrients has been found to mitigate most of the adverse effects of lead. This is encouraging news that brings hope. Except that too many families can’t access this life-saving antidote that most of us take for granted.

FeedFlint is focused on breaking down the barriers that create food insecurity for residents of Flint. Asbury Farms turns blighted, vacant properties into gardens of fresh fruit and vegetables. Our produce is distributed through numerous restaurants and partner organizations, including the South Flint Soup Kitchen, Asbury Community Help Center, FlintFresh, the Latinx Center, Boys and Girls Club, Hurley Food Pharmacy, and Oak Street Health.

Learn how you can help at FeedFlint.org.

Lent is much more about what we’re gaining than what we’re giving up. Pancakes are great. My favorite uses heavier grain flour stuffed with blueberries and pecans and topped with pure Michigan Maple Syrup. But we can’t live on pancakes alone. We need other nutrients. And Lent is about ensuring we get what we need for holistic health.

That’s why Asbury and three other Flint area churches are teaming up both on this series and on a unique study that kicks off on Wednesday, March 9. We’re planning two times, one at Noon and the other in the evening. Everyone is invited to participate. See our Book Club News article for more details.

Our new series, which will take us through March and end with Easter, is focused on food. We all require food to live, and let’s face it, good food is a real treat. But we also need spiritual food that comes from the Word of God. So anticipate a balanced diet and a variety. On two Sundays, March 13 and 27, the four pastors are on the road.

Expect Pastor Jeremy Pastors from Court Street UMC to be at Asbury on March 13, and Pastor Greg Timmons from Calvary UMC on March 27.

I pray that you will join us each Sunday morning at 10:30 am. We share our weekly episodes on our YouTube channel. We go live at 10:30 am. You can find these links along with more information about us, or join our live broadcast on our website at FlintAsbury.org.

Pastor Tommy